Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Emma Walker, Founder of Pronunciation with Emma, located in Barcelona, Spain.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am an English teacher who specialises in helping learners of English develop their British English pronunciation and listening skills. My students are from all around the world. Their goals range from passing exams, gaining promotions in their careers, or simply being able to communicate with others more fluently and effortlessly. Besides teaching English, I also create online educational content on YouTube and other social media platforms. I am also a social media and online content copywriter for various ELT companies.
Tell us about yourself
I started my own business for numerous reasons. Firstly, the ELT industry is sadly notorious for treating its teachers as disposable machines. I became fed up with receiving terrible contracts, poor conditions, awful pay, restrictions on my creativity and teaching, as well as being completely undervalued. After living in a small town in the UK for a year and developing severe depression due to being able to find any teaching-related work, I decided that I just couldn't tolerate my life there anymore and moved to Bristol (UK) to start completely fresh. I told myself, "I'm going to make this work. Otherwise, the local supermarket is my only option" (after working in a supermarket when I was in my late teens, I knew that I didn't want to go back to that again).
I did everything in my power to make my business work. I taught lessons that were incredibly cheap and aimed to give the best lessons that my students had ever had. Word of mouth spread very quickly throughout Bristol, and before I knew it, I had a completely overflowing schedule within just a few months. However, teaching back-to-back classes from 7 am to 9 pm for seven days a week does start to take a toll on a person. So, I decided to slowly start cutting down my teaching hours, but still, I was working hard, sometimes until 2 or 3 am, and had absolutely zero social life. I was successful but miserable.
After finishing my MSc TESOL, I became bored very quickly and decided to delve into the online teaching world. I started an Instagram page and taught myself how to film and edit online content. I then started making videos on YouTube and have never looked back. A few years later, I worked all hours of the day to put together my Pronunciation Pro membership site (an online course that focuses on British English pronunciation). When my course was first released, it was a huge success... and still is to this very day! Now, I no longer work crazy 18-hour days until 3 am. I'm now much stricter with my schedule, and I focus more on my YouTube channel, pronunciation course, and ELT copywriting. The thought that I am now helping so many people around the world is what keeps me going.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Launching my course, Pronunciation Pro. I cried the day that it was launched. It was a huge day for me.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Not being able to say no and switch off. You're constantly thinking about work, especially when you work at home, and that can be mentally straining after a while.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be super strict with your time. Don't burn yourself out by going full force straight away. If you're burnt out, you're more likely to quit, so be sure to schedule a time to sleep and proper rest.
- Don't listen to people who laugh or mock you. The people who made fun of me at the beginning are now the ones asking me for favours and congratulating me in my DMs.
- Realise that absolutely NOBODY knows what they're doing when they start a business for the first time. You learn as you go. It helps to surround yourself (in-person and/or online) with other business owners, preferably those who are in the same niche/field as you. Also, you should not see these people as your competition. If you truly have confidence in yourself and your abilities, you won't even see these people as competition but as colleagues to learn from and collaborate with in the future.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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